Original Date: 08/20/2001
Revision Date: 12/14/2006
Best Practice : Backfit Programs Test Facility
Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems-Surface Systems established the Backfit Programs Test Facility to confirm that equipment upgrades are properly configured and operational prior to shipboard installation. Most upgrades are done in a land-based environment which can identify and resolve equipment failures and issues, without impacting a ship’s overhaul schedule.
Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems-Surface Systems (NE&SS-SS) is the prime contractor for the Aegis Weapons System (AWS), and is responsible for commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment upgrades (or backfits) to the ship. The previous practice for handling backfits was to send the equipment directly to the ship, requiring the company to perform COTS equipment upgrades based on the ship’s availability at the waterfront. Upgrades in a ship environment raised a number of issues that impacted cost, schedule, and risk. Typically, a team of workers was assembled together and sent to a ship. They were expected to install the equipment; test and troubleshoot it; and identify and resolve any failures all without impacting the ship’s overall schedule. The practice took several weeks to complete, sometimes required additional support, and seldom was accomplished without interruptions. Driven by these inefficiencies and capitalizing on a very successful Forward Fit AWS production program, Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS developed the Backfit Programs Test Facility.
This test facility removes the majority of the backfit processes from a ship environment to a land-based environment. The facility is equipped with many pieces of the actual equipment in the ships, as well as simulators and emulators to support the level of testing, troubleshooting, and diagnostics required to bring the equipment to an operational level. The equipment is brought directly to the Backfit Programs Test Facility rather than shipped to the waterfront. The test facility provides the required firmware baseline, operating environment, IP addresses, configuration updates, and test requirements as configured on the ship. The facility can validate the equipment performance by bringing all ship systems into play. Additionally because the facility is located close to Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS, the Backfit Programs Test Facility can leverage its expertise, procedures, and skill mix.
The Backfit Programs Test Facility provides confirmation that equipment upgrades are properly configured and operational prior to shipboard installation. The facility identifies and resolves equipment failures and issues without impacting a ship’s overhaul schedule. By performing most backfit processes in a land-based environment, Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS reduced labor costs by 50%. Overall program risk is now mitigated. The Backfit Programs Test Facility can tap into a wide array of resources from Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS and the previously implemented Forward Fit program. To date, three systems have been processed through the facility, installed on the ships, and are operating successfully.
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